Living Proof

Do you want to go back in time and be a 17 year old boy, minus the raging hormones and pimply skin?

Scratch that. Let me start over.

Do you want the metabolism of a 17 year old boy? Where you can eat eat eat ALL the time and never never gain weight?

It’s what happens when you breastfeed. Seriously.

I eat SO MUCH food, and still weigh as much as I did 2 months ago (125 lbs.). While that may not seem like a very low number, I am 5’6″, almost 5’7″. For my height, I’m 5 pounds away from being underweight (every inch adds/subtracts 10 lbs. for averages, FYI). As a result, if I don’t have a LARGE dinner (by large, I mean more than Jesse), a dessert and 2 before-bedtime snacks (and, most of the time, a pint of beer!) I wake up with my stomach sticking inward and my hip bones jutting out. My metabolism is a raging machine on full throttle, and it’s all due to breastfeeding.

On a related note, I am super proud of myself (in a good way). Just 2 months ago, I didn’t have the milk supply to feed G without supplementation. It’s now been 2 months since we used any formula!

9 bags of milk stored in the freezer

All I do is wait until 2 hours after G is in bed and pump! I can definitely see the benefits of pumping/milk storage, even for stay at home moms. For example, even though I was with G all day yesterday, he’s going through a bit of a growth spurt. Since my body takes several days to aclimate to needing more milk, we heated up a bottle in the afternoon for G when he was still acting hungry. Problem solved! If he wakes up before I can pump in the evenings (which happens only during a growth spurt!) my body is ready to give him a full feeding (instead of shutting down for the night).

What I was able to pump a few weeks ago, before I consistently started pumping at night

What I was able to pump in one sitting last night!

So far, he’s gaining weight beautifully, despite what a rough time we were having only 10 weeks ago. He has now mostly caught up to his 6-9 month size in clothing (we’ve always been one or two behind), and doesn’t ever act hungry right after a feeding. And he has enough energy to supply an army.

And if something happens to where my milk supply suddenly diminishes again? I have a stockpile to help supplement until I can get it back up again!

Because it can be done. I am living proof of the fact that a woman’s body CAN make enough milk, even if genetics are against her. All it takes is persistence, the right herbs, and lots and lots of calories. And prayer 🙂

 

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Planning WAYYY Ahead

Lately, I’ve been doing a bit of research devoted to what kinds of products I would like for Baby #2 (and NO, WE’RE NOT PREGNANT. Just for clarification.) I think that making a list of things that would’ve been helpful for the first 6 months will be easier now, while the memory is fresh. As G gets more and more self-sufficient, it gets difficult to remember what things used to be like!

In the process, I’ve found some neat stuff I wish I’d known about!

For instance…

This Fisher Price Baby Bentwood Rocker is AWESOME! It can rock or be stationary, plus it has a vibrating function, which we found to be super helpful in getting G calm (hey, it was either that or bounce him in our arms, which is tiring at 4am! Some people are against it though, which is totally valid). Plus, it's only $50, which is a great price for these type of seats. PLUS it's really cute.

Glamourmom tummy control nursing tanks-- while these are expensive, even the smallest size at Target was way too big around my stomach within a week of giving birth. It's also nice to have a layer covering your stomach when nursing in public. I practically lived in these for the first few months.

 

We have the all-in-one Combi Coccorro carseat, but G will probably still be in it until he's 3 or so. It wasn't our original plan to use an infant carseat, but I'm so glad we switched for the short term-- it's made getting in and out of the car quickly with an infant sooo much easier. Grocery store runs are a cinch! It takes us about 5 seconds to lock G's seat into the base in the car, instead of the 3-5 minutes to get him buckled in, while bending over. I like this Britax one because of the unique Anti-Rebound bar.

While this stroller is super expensive, it's also super versatile, with 14 different configurations. It can accommodate a click-in infant seat. It can even become a double seater for child #2!

Don't you just want to BE this mom, long skirt and everything? Haha.

I want to find a co-sleeper of some sort. I grew really fond of having G with us, right next to the bed. I wish I'd learned to nurse G while laying on my side a lot sooner. While there is a learning curve, it is soo easy to do without waking up fully--essential when you're getting up 5-6 times a night! Our pack n play worked alright, but I like the idea of a fold-down side that can be put back up when the baby is older, making it a small portable crib! Genius! I could see it only working for 6-8 months, but it would've been worth the money to me, due to how our family operates.

I'm always a fan of space-savers! This folds flat for storage, and fits easily in a smaller kitchen sink like ours. I can't find anywhere to store G's HUGE infant bathtub-- it's just an awkward piece of plastic that we always have sitting in our 2nd bathroom! This would've been much nicer.

Next time around, I'm starting with a giant stash of these-- Thirsties Duo Diaper Covers. By far, hands down, the best. Only 2 sizes needed from birth to potty training. Never ONCE had a leak with these puppies! They are perfect in every way.

There are things that we haven’t needed first time around, but sometimes it’s hard to tell which things were expendable, since I tried everything and ended up finding uses for everything we were given. I had doubts about using a changing table (almost just used a dresser), but ended up liking the height since it was a back-saver. Our rocker has been nice, but not necessary. Our papasan baby chair was extremely helpful, but only for about 8 weeks (if it wasn’t only $5, I might feel bad about this fact 🙂 ). Many find the Boppy-like Nursing pillows to be over-kill, but I still use my “Breast-friend” pillow for nursing, mainly because of the lumbar support that it provides. Proper angle is so crucial during the first few days (otherwise, HELLO INTENSE PAIN!), and I think my pillow put G at the exact right place, even when I was too tired to think clearly.

Apartment Therapy just ran a blog post about baby items that we think we need but don’t. The Rocking Chair won as the most over-rated baby item!

I think I’ve asked this before, but it was a while ago. What items do you wish you’d bought? What items do you think were unnecessary?

 

Book Recommendation

I am really enjoying a new book I bought a few weeks ago, called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Here is the book description on the inner sleeve:

Hang on for the ride: With characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to rural life in which they vow to buy only goods raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Their good-humoured search yields surprising discoveries about turkey sex life and overly zealous zucchini plants, en route to a food culture that’s better for the neighborhood and also better on the table. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes its passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.

I think this is completely accurate, even though I’ve only finished the first 30 pages or so. Here are a few paragraphs in order to get you intrigued enough to buy the book:

“part memoir”…

“This story about good food begins in a quick-stop convenience market. It was our family’s last day in Arizona, where I’d lived half of my life and raised two kids for the whole of theirs. Now we were moving away forever, taking our nostalgic inventory of the things we would never see again: the bush where the roadrunner built a nest and fed lizards to her weird-looking babies; the tree Camille crashed into learning to ride a bike; the exact spot where Lily touched a dead snake. Our driveway was just the first tributary on a memory river sweeping us out.

One person’s picture postcard is someone else’s normal. This was the landscape whose every face we knew: giant saguaro cacti, coyotes, mountains, the wicked sun reflecting off bare gravel. We were leaving it now in one of its uglier moments, which made good-bye easier, but also seemed like a cheap shot– like ending a romance right when your partner has really bad bed hair. The desert that day looked like a nasty case of prickly heat caught in a long, naked wince….

She goes on to describe their reasons for moving from Tuscon, AZ to a small farm in the Appalachian Mountains.

So, as the U.S. population made an unprecendented dash for the Sun Belt, one carload of us dog paddled against the tide, heading for the Promised Land where water falls from the sky and green stuff grows all around. We were about to begin the adventure of realigning our lives with our food chain.

Naturally, our first stop was to buy junk food and fossil fuel.

In the cinder-block convenience mart we foraged the aisles for blue corn chips and Craisins. Our family’s natural foods-teenager scooped up a pile of energy bars big enough to pass as a retirement plan for a hamster. Our family’s congenitally frugal Mom shelled out two bucks for a fancy green bottle of about a nickel’s worth of iced tea. As long as we were all going crazy here, we threw in some 99-cent bottles of what comes free out of drinking fountains in places like Perrier, France…

As we gathered our loot onto the counter, the sky darkened suddenly. After two hundred consecutive cloudless days, you forget what it looks like when a cloud crosses the sun. We all blinked. The cashier frowned toward the plate-glass window.

“Dang,” she said, “it’s going to rain.”

“I hope so,” Steven said.

She turned her scowl from the window to Steven. This bleached-blond guardian of gas pumps and snack food was not amused. “It better not, is all I can say.”

“But we need it, ” I pointed out. I am not one to argue with cashiers, but the desert was dying, and this was my very last minute as a Tusconan. I hated to jinx it with bad precipitation-karma.

“I know that’s what they’re saying, but I don’t care. Tomorrow’s my first day off in two weeks, and I want to wash my car.”

Oh, the irony!

The book also has its more serious moments, giving it the “part journalistic investigation” description:

This is how 70 percent of all our midwestern agricultural land shifted gradually into single-crop or soybean farms, each one of them now, on average, the size of Manhattan. Owing to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetic modification, and a conversion of farming from a naturally based to a highly mechanized production system, U.S. farmers now produce 3,900 calories per U.S. citizen, per day. That is twice what we need, and 700 calories a day more than they grew in 1980. Commodity farmers can only survive by producing their maximum yields, so they do. And here is the shocking plot twist: as the farmers produced those extra calories, the food industry figured out how to get them into the bodies of people who didn’t really want to eat 700 more calories a day. That is the well oiled machine we call Late Capitalism.

Most of those calories enter our mouths in forms hardly recognizable as corn and soybeans, or even vegetable in origin: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) owns up to its parentage, but lecithin, citric acid, maltodextrin, sorbitol, and xanthan gum, for example, are also manufactured from corn. So are beef, eggs, and poultry, in a different but no less artificial process. Soybeans have also become animal flesh, or else a category of ingredient known as “added fats”. If every product containing corn or soybeans were removed from your grocery store, it would look more like a hardware store. Alarmingly, the lightbulbs might be naked, since many packaging materials also contain cornstarch. (In Food Inc., they list a ton of other things, including charcoal and even baby diapers!).

No cashier held a gun to our heads and made us supersize it, true enough But humans have a built-in weakness for fats and sugar. We evolved in lean environments where it was a big plus for survival to gorge on calorie-dense foods whenever we found them. Whether or not they understand the biology, food marketers know the weakness and have exploited it without mercy. Obesity is generally viewed as a failure of personal resolve, with no acknowledgement of the genuine conpiracy in this historical scheme. People actually did sit in strategy meetings discussing ways to get all those surplus calories into people who neither needed nor wished to consume them. Children have been targeted especially; food companies spend over $10 billion a year selling food brands to kids, and it isn’t broccoli they’re pushing. Overweight children are a demographic in many ways similar to minors addicted to cigarettes, with one notable exception: their parents are usually the suppliers. We all subsidize the cheap calories with our tax dollars, the strategists make fortunes, and the overweight consumers get blamed for the violation. The perfect crime.

This book is excellent. Definitely something worth reading. I got mine for 99 cents off of half.com, so if you like to read, there’s really no excuse!

I’ll leave you with another one of her sentences to chew on:

In the grocery store checkout corral, we’re more likely to learn which TV stars are secretly fornicating than to inquire as to the whereabouts of the people who grew the cucumbers and melons in our carts.

So true.

Adventures in Sleep Training

I’m beginning to think that a consistent sleep schedule is more for the sake of the parent rather than the child.

In fact, I feel as though I’ve just discovered the Holy Grail of parenting 101: PUT YOUR KID TO BED AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE.

At the beginning of this week, (after we were almost hit by 3 tornados), Jesse and I had a heart to heart about why we’re the last people on the face of the earth to sleep train our kid:

1. Neither Jesse or I are “schedule people”. Heck, we barely make it anywhere on time. We wanted to ask ourselves if it was really realistic, as parents, to put our kid on a schedule, because what that really means is that we are putting ourselves on a schedule. And neither of us are fans of things that we start but don’t follow through with.

2. Our day-to-day routine is never the same. For the past 6 months, Jesse has gone to work at a different time every morning of the week! This also means he gets home at a different time every evening. My piano schedule varies day to day as well. So we are used to “playing things by ear”.

3. Whenever we have tried to force/schedule G into doing anything, we’ve all wound up screaming and miserable. Yes, all of us.

But we decided to bite the bullet and go for it. G has been cranky during the day, mostly, from what I can tell, due to tiredness. I’ve read so much about recent links between the rise in ADD and lack of sleep in children, and I’ve really noticed this to be true with G already. When he’s tired, he’s manic, hyper, and can’t focus on anything for more than a few seconds. I can’t imagine what years of this would do to a kid!

Jesse and I were also tired of spending an hour or more every night, consoling a cranky screaming baby, practically on our hands and knees BEGGING him to sleep. We wondered if he wasn’t so tired and stressed out in the first place, if it would really be that hard to get him to sleep?

So, starting this last Thursday, Jesse and I posed a grand experiment, venturing into the vastly unknown (to us) world of Sleep Training.

Our goals?

1. To have G in bed by 8:30 pm. No later.

2. To have him sleep the whole night, waking only once to nurse.

3. To capture time together in the evenings, baby-free.

How did our experiment turn out so far? Read on!

Thursday, Day 1:

Between 7:30-8pm, I actually bathed G while cooking dinner at the same time! It worked, because he was super absorbed with his water toys, and because I could actually keep one hand on his back while flipping the chicken in the frying pan. Jesse got home at 8:20 pm and immediately put G in his pjs and heavy super-soaker cloth diaper (so absorbent, it could contain a can of soda!), I nursed him one more time, and then, voila! G was swaddled and in bed.

Except for…he was not happy. Screaming, would be more accurate, in fact. After a brief argument, Jesse convinced me that letting him “cry it out” just one night wasn’t going to hurt things. We’ve never tried it, and we wanted to see what he would do. We watched the clock. After 10 minutes, Jesse went and patted him on the back for 5. 10 more minutes later, G was asleep. ASLEEP. Soothed himself to sleep.

Whew. That wasn’t too bad! Less than 1/2 hr. of crying! The real test, however, was how long would he sleep?

We found out at 6am, when he cried for the first time. I nursed him, and he napped with Jesse and I in our bed until we all woke up for good around 9am.

Result? G slept non-stop from 9pm-6am, and then again from 6:20am-9am. Pretty sweet, no???

Friday, Day 2:

Jesse and I bathed G together at 8pm. Once again, Jesse changed him into his clothes and I gave him his last feeding of the night. This time, Jesse was able to rock/coax him to sleep in less than 20 minutes.

Once again, G did not awake until just before 6am. Since G and I were taking Jesse to work (yes, poor guy had to work 8-12pm on a Saturday!), we all got up at 7am.

Result: G slept non-stop from 8:30pm-6am, then napped until 7am.

Saturday, Day 3:

Jesse and I bathed G at 8pm. G had his last nursing, but I could tell he didn’t get much, mainly because he was really distracted. I knew that he would probably wake sooner, mostly due to hunger.

Sure enough, Gregory woke up at 2am, hungry as a lion. Once I was done nursing him, however, Jesse took him right back to his crib, where he slept until 6am. After I nursed him, we all napped together until it was time to get up for church at 8am.

Result: G slept non-stop from 8pm-2am, then from 2:20am-6am, then 6:20am-8am. Not as good, but okay in our book!

Sunday, Day 4:

This was to be my first night putting G to bed by myself! Jesse and Michael were invited over to Clay’s house to “work up a good confession” by drinking beers and smoking cigars with the boys. Of course I wanted him to go, but I was more than a little afraid that our whole schedule was going to fall apart. I’m not very strong when it comes to resisting G’s cries…plus, he’d only had 2-3 tiny naps while on the go today. Sundays are hard, especially when we choose to do anything after church (in this case, Jenny and I hit a HUGE sale at The Gap while Jesse’s Parish Council meeting was going on).

At around 6pm, G was already super super crabby and tired. I decided, however, that I was going to hold him off until at least 7:00. We barely made it– I had to constantly play with him in an effort to distract him from his whining. He enjoyed his bath, but the second I pulled him out to dress him, he started what we call the “CPS Scream”. He didn’t stop the entire time I was dressing and diapering him.

Finally, when I went to nurse him at 7:30, he calmed down. In fact, he fell asleep while eating! All I did was pull the ole “switcheroo” with his pacifier, and put him in the crib. Done. Asleep by 7:45 pm. Like magic.

All in all, this seems to be working beautifully. We’ll keep our fingers crossed!

There are downsides, of course, such as the fact that at least one of us will have to remain home after 8pm from now on. Or at least for a few weeks, until things become solidified.

But the upsides are great, as evidenced last night. Jesse and I were able to enjoy a quiet evening together, eating cheese ravioli and drinking a yummy Spanish wine we bought at Central Market. Afterwards, we watched The Black Swan and discussed it together. All without having to care for a baby!  It was nice to have a date night together.

One of the Best Parts

One of the best parts about being a parent is watching Jesse make G laugh. He knows exactly what will make him shriek with joy!

What the two of them were doing while Chelsea and I were on the phone Friday:

This afternoon:

Carseat Safety

I’ve been wanting to post on this for a while, but keep forgetting. Over the past  couple of months, I have had a lot of friends posting articles and warnings on Facebook on how the 2011 AAP guidelines concerning front/rear facing carseats have changed.

Apparently, it is not safe to have a child facing forward until their 2nd birthday, at the earliest! The AAP advises this because in a rear-facing position, their bodies are better able to evenly distribute the force of the crash over their entire body. When facing forward, however, their neck absorbs most of the crash, with devastating consequences.

Some people have put up the argument that a longer child will break his legs if he is rear-facing in the event of an accident. Sadly, the slogan the Department of Safety in Motor Vehicles have now come up with the slogan, “Broken legs? Cast it. Broken neck? Casket.” Put THAT way….

Whew. Heavy stuff. Luckily, my carseat is rear facing until 33 lbs, which should be more than enough time for G to hit 2 and have the proper neck muscles and support! After we switch him facing forward for a year or two, we will then need to find him a booster seat that can last until he’s 8!

Does anyone else have a carseat they would recommend?

 

So Neat!

Cameron Ingalls, our wedding photographer, has done it again, producing one of the neatest, most unique engagement photo shoots I have ever seen! Take a look!

An underwater photo shoot? Neat!

So True

I just found a list of quotes about motherhood/parenting. They are pretty good! I highlighted my favorites. Enjoy!

Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. ~Ambrose Bierce

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. ~Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty

Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories. ~John Wilmot

You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back. ~William D. Tammeus

A man’s work is from sun to sun, but a mother’s work is never done. ~Author Unknown

 There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it. ~Chinese Proverb

If nature had arranged that husbands and wives should have children alternatively, there would never be more than three in a family. ~Lawrence Housman

The lullaby is the spell whereby the mother attempts to transform herself back from an ogre to a saint. – James Fenton 

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone 

Popeye the Sailor

G is getting SO VERY strong and active nowadays. At only 7 months, he is crawling from a sitting position, cruisin on the furniture (many times one-handed), diving out of his bumbo and bouncy seats (even when buckled) and nearly balanced enough to stand on his own.

They say you can tell a lot about a baby’s personality from this stage. G is definitely a no-holds-barred, “try anything and think about the consequences later” type of baby. He isn’t afraid of doing something right, he’s just determined to try, over and over. Every day, he takes huge strides because he spends a good deal of time on the floor with me, “exercising”. I think that the more mobile he gets, the more he is motivated to try things.

As a result, he is receiving about 3-4 accidental bumps on the head every day, sending him into a fit of tears (only for a few seconds, and not with Jesse, funny enough!). When he can’t have something that he’s been crawling towards, or that something is taken away from him once he gets it (my cereal bowl, cell phone or laptop), he has what I can only call a tantrum (isn’t it too early for those?). Add that to his current state of teething-crankiness, and he’s not too much fun to be around right now!

cruisin on the couch

Standing with very little help!

Here’s a video that was taken about a week ago. He’s already become a much better crawler since!

Here’s another funny video from a week and a half ago of G getting super excited around Claire-bear (who is running for her life, half the video!).

And I think we all know what he’s doing here, especially at 1:48…

One more video, from whence this post gets its name…

Hail and Tornados!

We had a pretty crazy weather day over here! I left my piano lessons half hour early in order to beat the storm home. I’m a bit skittish, seeing as there was a similar, lesser in intensity, storm on Friday afternoon, wherein I was caught in hail whilst driving on the freeway (I ducked under an overpass and waited it out with a dozen other cars). It was miserable, so I took every precaution to avoid it today.

The sirens were going off for around 45 minutes. I am pretty certain that at one point, I saw a funnel cloud begin to descend from the clouds in the distance. We were pelted with golf-ball sized hail for around half an hour (it sounded like someone was throwing baseballs at our windows and roof!).

the size of hail that fell near us-- we were on the outskirts of the storm

The hail that fell 10 minutes from where I was teaching piano lessons, smashing windshields and denting cars

Here’s the scary thing: this video was taken from within the Unruh’s apartment complex.

Here’s a video that Jesse and I took. Take note of our AWESOME parenting skills.